REVIEWED BY KATHARINE ENGLAND
indistinctly spotlit in grainy, grey CCT camera footage.
On the surface of the novel these interact, passing and meeting around the wide arc of Circular Quay, recording revealing responses to first sights of Sydney’s icons, the Bridge and the Opera House. Beneath the surface the four intimately and privately engage with Slessor’s poem, with memory and time. It is as if the poem is a song that has been expanded into a symphony, the riffs and themes repeated, refined, restated and eventually brought home to a restful conclusion, all backgrounded by the perpetual, lively, circular voice of the didgeridoo.
Each of the characters has their own counterpart to Irish Joe, who haunts Slessor’s dreams. Pei Xing has her father, the translator of Dr Zhivago into Chinese, denigrated and destroyed in the Cultural Revolution; Catherine has her brother Brendan, childhood soul-